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Great Legal Resources for Startups ...

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Whenever I meet a new founder at 106 Miles, one of the first things I ask is whether they have a great lawyer. Since companies are legal entities, having a great lawyer can make a big difference to a startup.

First, to scare you straight, here are the six biggest legal mistakes startups make.

Now, take a breath. Learning the law is a journey with no finish line.

If you're just getting started, I recommend 7 legal documents for your startup. In general, Startup Lawyer has very good articles that are worth reading, as does Venture Hacks.

Your understanding of the law will develop over time; use every opportunity you can to learn the law, because knowledge is power:

1) Learn the basics of startup law. Orrick's Emerging Companies Group is a leading advisor to more than 700 startups. I highly recommend their Startup Toolkit, particularly their Startup Forms Library and their Term Sheet Creator, for frameworks understanding the nuts-and-bolts legal details of startups.

2) Learn about financing terms. Ted Wang's Series Seed Documents claim to be better than capped convertible notes for entrepreneurs. They're worth reading for a good primer on financing terms.

3) Learn about intellectual property. I've found IP Law for Startups useful, too. Intellectual property concerns are their own fun barrel of monkeys.

4) Learn from other entrepreneurs. The Venture Hacks Legal Archives have a dozen very helpful articles about how entrepreneurs can get the most out of their lawyers.

After a dozen years learning, I still learn new best practices by asking other entrepreneurs and lawyers. To that end, Quora can be helpful for startup legal issues.

Ultimately, remember: lawyers are your referees, NOT your coaches, and ultimately you make your own decisions.

Lawyers in Silicon Valley know everything about the funding climate RIGHT NOW. Don't even think about doing a financing with an out of town lawyer!

That reminds me of five questions a startup should as prospective law firms.

Number one is, Do you work with startups?

The more a law firm works with startups, the more the firm knows about what current state-of-the-art for startup law is.

As Joyce points out, things do change with the business cycle, as well as when new laws are passed and old laws are tested.

This post is now the #2 Google search result for things startups should ask lawyers.


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